Common Weakness Enumeration

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CWE-628: Function Call with Incorrectly Specified Arguments

Weakness ID: 628
Abstraction: Base
Status: Draft
Presentation Filter:
+ Description

Description Summary

The product calls a function, procedure, or routine with arguments that are not correctly specified, leading to always-incorrect behavior and resultant weaknesses.

Extended Description

There are multiple ways in which this weakness can be introduced, including:

  • the wrong variable or reference;

  • an incorrect number of arguments;

  • incorrect order of arguments;

  • wrong type of arguments; or

  • wrong value.

+ Time of Introduction
  • Implementation
+ Applicable Platforms



+ Common Consequences
Access Control

Technical Impact: Quality degradation; Gain privileges / assume identity

This weakness can cause unintended behavior and can lead to additional weaknesses such as allowing an attacker to gain unintended access to system resources.

+ Detection Methods


Since these bugs typically introduce obviously incorrect behavior, they are found quickly, unless they occur in rarely-tested code paths. Managing the correct number of arguments can be made more difficult in cases where format strings are used, or when variable numbers of arguments are supported.

+ Demonstrative Examples

Example 1

The following PHP method authenticates a user given a username/password combination but is called with the parameters in reverse order.

(Bad Code)
Example Language: PHP 
function authenticate($username, $password) {
// authenticate user

authenticate($_POST['password'], $_POST['username']);

Example 2

This Perl code intends to record whether a user authenticated successfully or not, and to exit if the user fails to authenticate. However, when it calls ReportAuth(), the third argument is specified as 0 instead of 1, so it does not exit.

(Bad Code)
Example Language: Perl 
sub ReportAuth {
my ($username, $result, $fatal) = @_;
PrintLog("auth: username=%s, result=%d", $username, $result);
if (($result ne "success") && $fatal) {
die "Failed!\n";

sub PrivilegedFunc
my $result = CheckAuth($username);
ReportAuth($username, $result, 0);

Example 3

In the following Java snippet, the accessGranted() method is accidentally called with the static ADMIN_ROLES array rather than the user roles.

(Bad Code)
Example Language: Java 
private static final String[] ADMIN_ROLES = ...;
public boolean void accessGranted(String resource, String user) {
String[] userRoles = getUserRoles(user);
return accessGranted(resource, ADMIN_ROLES);

private boolean void accessGranted(String resource, String[] userRoles) {
// grant or deny access based on user roles
+ Observed Examples
The method calls the functions with the wrong argument order, which allows remote attackers to bypass intended access restrictions.
+ Potential Mitigations

Phase: Build and Compilation

Once found, these issues are easy to fix. Use code inspection tools and relevant compiler features to identify potential violations. Pay special attention to code that is not likely to be exercised heavily during QA.

Phase: Architecture and Design

Make sure your API's are stable before you use them in production code.

+ Weakness Ordinalities

This is usually primary to other weaknesses, but it can be resultant if the function's API or function prototype changes.

+ Relationships
NatureTypeIDNameView(s) this relationship pertains toView(s)
ChildOfCategoryCategory559Often Misused: Arguments and Parameters
Development Concepts (primary)699
ChildOfWeakness ClassWeakness Class573Improper Following of Specification by Caller
Research Concepts (primary)1000
ChildOfCategoryCategory736CERT C Secure Coding Section 02 - Declarations and Initialization (DCL)
Weaknesses Addressed by the CERT C Secure Coding Standard (primary)734
ChildOfCategoryCategory737CERT C Secure Coding Section 03 - Expressions (EXP)
Weaknesses Addressed by the CERT C Secure Coding Standard734
ChildOfCategoryCategory742CERT C Secure Coding Section 08 - Memory Management (MEM)
Weaknesses Addressed by the CERT C Secure Coding Standard734
ChildOfCategoryCategory998SFP Secondary Cluster: Glitch in Computation
Software Fault Pattern (SFP) Clusters (primary)888
ParentOfWeakness VariantWeakness Variant683Function Call With Incorrect Order of Arguments
Development Concepts (primary)699
Research Concepts (primary)1000
ParentOfWeakness VariantWeakness Variant685Function Call With Incorrect Number of Arguments
Development Concepts (primary)699
Research Concepts (primary)1000
ParentOfWeakness VariantWeakness Variant686Function Call With Incorrect Argument Type
Development Concepts (primary)699
Research Concepts (primary)1000
ParentOfWeakness VariantWeakness Variant687Function Call With Incorrectly Specified Argument Value
Development Concepts (primary)699
Research Concepts (primary)1000
ParentOfWeakness VariantWeakness Variant688Function Call With Incorrect Variable or Reference as Argument
Development Concepts (primary)699
Research Concepts (primary)1000
MemberOfViewView884CWE Cross-section
CWE Cross-section (primary)884
+ Taxonomy Mappings
Mapped Taxonomy NameNode IDFitMapped Node Name
CERT C Secure CodingDCL10-CMaintain the contract between the writer and caller of variadic functions
CERT C Secure CodingEXP37-CCall functions with the arguments intended by the API
CERT C Secure CodingMEM08-CUse realloc() only to resize dynamically allocated arrays
+ Content History
Modification DateModifierOrganizationSource
2008-09-08CWE Content TeamMITREInternal
updated Description, Relationships, Other_Notes, Weakness_Ordinalities
2008-11-24CWE Content TeamMITREInternal
updated Relationships, Taxonomy_Mappings
2009-10-29CWE Content TeamMITREInternal
updated Detection_Factors, Other_Notes, Weakness_Ordinalities
2010-02-16CWE Content TeamMITREInternal
updated Detection_Factors
2010-06-21CWE Content TeamMITREInternal
updated Description
2011-06-01CWE Content TeamMITREInternal
updated Common_Consequences
2011-06-27CWE Content TeamMITREInternal
updated Common_Consequences
2012-05-11CWE Content TeamMITREInternal
updated Common_Consequences, Demonstrative_Examples, Relationships
2012-10-30CWE Content TeamMITREInternal
updated Potential_Mitigations
2014-07-30CWE Content TeamMITREInternal
updated Relationships
Previous Entry Names
Change DatePrevious Entry Name
2008-04-11Incorrectly Specified Arguments

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Page Last Updated: May 05, 2017